Sales Enablement in a Sales 2.0 world

Let’s look at the Knowledge Management or Sharing aspect of Sales Enablement

Posted in Uncategorized by salesenablement on March 28, 2010

sharing experiences in context in BizSphere

On March 27, 2010, Sumeet Moghe (@sumeet_moghe) posted ‘Enterprise 2.0 – Community Spaces can lead to Walled Gardens’ at LearningGeneralist.com:

“[...] community spaces are not only overhyped, but also if done incorrectly, a deterrent to knowledge sharing. This is a spin-off from Andrew Mcafee’s concept of walled gardens. Let me explain this through a scenario:

  • Company Foo establishes a knowledge sharing platform that allows every group of people to create their own space, with a separate set of access privileges.
  • The platform doesn’t have a way to search across different spaces, because every space is almost like a site in itself.
  • Soon, different groups of people (communities) set up ‘community spaces’ and restrict access only to members of the community. Sales has their own space. Technology has a separate space. Marketing has their own space. Support and Evolution has their own space. The story goes on.
  • One fine day a new salesman trying to put together a proposal needs information about:
    • Company Foo’s previous work in the space;
    • case studies of successful deployments in the domain;
    • Company Foo’s track record and capability supporting this kind of work;
    • and the various technology platforms they have expertise in
  • Given that each community has it’s own space (walled garden), the new salesman doesn’t have a way to search across all communities for the information he needs.
  • Over a painstaking few days, the new salesman eventually finds all the information he needs by signing in to every individual community space and searching separately on each space. He has to wait a couple of days before he gets approval to join a couple of community spaces, and that delays his proposal.

We could go on with this story but I guess you can see how tough things can be when every community builds their own isolated knowledge sharing space. Community knowledge can never become organisational knowledge this way, and over a period of time, the system becomes extremely difficult to manage. This is the classic nature of walled gardens in the enterprise.

Tear down the walls first

Organisational knowledge sharing can do without walled gardens. What we need instead is one place for all communities to share knowledge and the structure to emerge from user generated tags and metadata. This is where a certain bit of knowledge housekeeping comes in. I believe that leadership and knowledge management teams need to strongly discourage internal groups and communities from creating inaccessible islands of knowledge. There needs to be a strong incentive to contribute knowledge to one platform, that is powered by search.

Yes, there’ll always be the need to have team wikis and collaboration spaces. This is where it becomes important to clearly define the scope of team collaboration and organisational knowledge and create some clear (but porous) boundaries between the two. Which is to say for example, that it’s absolutely OK for a team to set up their own wiki or workspace and do so with minimal friction, but when some team knowledge becomes organisational wisdom the team has the incentive to contribute to the organisational knowledge base. The challenge for knowledge managers is to make this contribution as easy as possible so that people don’t have to make the same effort twice and the structure doesn’t come in the way of knowledge sharing.

My beliefs about post-modern Knowledge Management

In my current world view, I have a few beliefs:

  1. Enterprise knowledge needs to be public (to all employees) by default and private only if there’s a very, very good reason for it.
  2. Knowledge sharing needs to move from being part of closed channels to open platforms.
  3. People should have a choice to collaborate privately, but have the support to easily make their private knowledge public.
  4. Discussions and conversations should get organised using tags and metadata as against separate mailing lists and groups. People should have the option to subscribe using email, but this shouldn’t be the default.
  5. Knowledge managers need to define, maintain and protect the structure of ‘no initial structure’. The structure should emerge over time using tags, ratings and user input. This however needs continuous involvement with all communities and is by no means easy.
  6. Content stewardship is key — things don’t happen on their own. Knowledge managers need to keep their eye out for quality content on private channels/ spaces. They need to have the agility and presence of mind to move this to being organisational knowledge with a strong incentive for the authors. This is essential to the process of long lasting change.”

content intelligence via SVA BizSphere AG's Content Landscape

On the topic of keeping track of quality content (Which collateral works, which doesn’t? What is being downloaded, rated or commented on the most? Which author should be rewarded for successful content? Which area only has content that is older than two years? Etc…) I recommend the following further reading on content intelligence.

On the topic of email subscriptions I would remind not to forget offering an RSS feed, which for some people is preferred over email subscriptions especially in case there are a lot of updates.

On the topic of letting users tag their content and having a good search engine, I would like to add the importance of aligning the information architecture in an enterprise, which could mean that in addition to free tags everything also needs to be tagged with the names of applicable offerings, services and solutions from the enterprise’s portfolio.

Mass media being replaced by social streams of information

Posted in Uncategorized by salesenablement on May 22, 2009

I describe myself as a media guy who turned B2B tech marketer as traditional media dies. It started when I wrote my masters thesis about the question who needed television channels anymore with high definition YouTube and hulu.com like sites around. Later I gave up my own [static] website in favor of a blog and LinkedIn, Twitter & Facebook streams.

I don’t have a TV set, don’t listen to radio nor do I have subscriptions of any print media. These days I even search via Google less often than I search Twitter’s real-time stream for certain key words or click on links in the stream Facebook puts together from all my “friends”.

Thomas Baekdal (@baekdal) from baekdal.com put these trends in a great graphic and wrote a blog post on April 27, 2009:

http://www.baekdal.com

“[...]

2007 – Me too

3 years later the social element if the internet showed just how powerful the voice of the people really is. The TV was [for] the first time no longer the primary source of information, and newspapers are struggling to survive.

Everyone wanted to create their own little world, and connect it with their friends. But 2007 was also the turning point for the traditional websites. It was once the most important change, but now people compared the traditional websites to newspapers – a static and passive form of information. We wanted active information. We wanted to be a part of it, not just looking at it.

The blogs also started to get in trouble. Just as TV had eliminated radio (because it was better and richer way to give people LIVE information) so are social networks eliminating blogs. A social profile is a more active way for people to share what they care about. Social networks are simply the best tool for the job, and the blogs could not keep up.

2009 – Everything is Social

2 years later, today, the new internet is completely dominating our world. The newspapers are dead in the water, and people are watching less TV than ever. The new king of information is everyone, using social networking tools to connect and communicate.

Even the traditional website is dying from the relentless force of the constant stream of rich information from the social networks.

In the past 210 years we have seen an amazing evolution of information. We could:

  • Get information from distant places
  • Get it LIVE
  • See it LIVE
  • Get to decide when to see something, and what to see
  • Allow us to take part, and comment.
  • Publish our own information
  • …and in 2009… be the information.

But 2009 is also going to be the start of the next revolution. Because everything we know is about to change.

The Future

The first and most dramatic change is the concept of Social News. Social news is quickly taking over our need for staying up-to-date with what goes on in the world. News is no longer being reported by journalists, now it comes from everyone. And it is being reported directly from the source to you – bypassing the traditional media channels. [...]

But social news is much more than that. It is increasingly about getting news directly from the people who [make] it. Instead of having a journalist reporting what some analyst are saying, you hear it from the analyst [...]. Social news is about getting news from the source, directly, and unfiltered.

A new wave of entertainment is emerging [...], one dominated by the games, video and audio streams. Instead of tuning into a TV channel, you decide what to see and when to see it. We are no longer subscribing to a channel, where someone else decides what you can see. You decide and control everything about the experience.

And a new concept in the form of targeted information is slowly emerging. We are already seeing an increasing number of services on mobile phones, where you can get information for the area that you are in. E.g. instead of showing all the restaurants in the world, you will only get a list of the restaurants in your area.

This is something that is going to explode into in the years to come. In the world where we have access to more information that we can consume, getting only the relevant parts is going to be a very important element. And, this will expand far beyond the simple geo-targeting that we see today.

2020 – Traditional is dead

In the next 5-10 years, the world of information will change quite a bit. All the traditional forms of information are essentially dead. The traditional printed newspapers no longer exists, television in the form of preset channels is replaced by single shows that you can watch whenever you like. Radio shows [are being] replaced [by] podcasts and vodcasts.

The websites have a much lesser role, as their primary function will be to serve as a hub for all the activities that you do elsewhere. It is the place where people get the raw material for use in other places. And the websites and social networks will merge into one. Your website and blog is your social profile.

Social news, as described previously, is going to be the most important way that people communicate. The traditional journalistic reporting is by now completely replaced getting information directly from the source. Everyone is a potential reporter, but new advances in targeting will eliminate most of the noise. The journalists will turn into editors who, instead of reporting the news, bring it together to give us a bigger picture.

The news stream of the future will be personalized to each individual person, and is constantly adjusting what you see – much the same way as Last.fm is doing today with music.

Everything will incorporate some form of targeting. You will be in control over every single bit of information that flows your way.

In 2010, two new concepts will start to emerge. One of them is intelligent information, where information streams can combine bits from many different news sources. Not just by pulling data, but summarizing it, breaking it apart and extracting the valuable parts.

Instead of reading 5 different articles on the same topic, you will be presented with one, highlighting the vital point of interest.

The world information is also going to be available almost everywhere. The concept of having to get the paper, sit in front of your TV, or look at your computer, will be long gone. Information will not be something you have to get. It comes to you, wherever you are, in whatever situation you happen to be in.

In the same way, information will not be something you ‘consume’ a certain times – like you did with prime-time on TVs. The information stream will be a natural part of every second of your life. It is not something you get, it is something you have.

The static and controlled forms of information that we see today will soon be a thing of the past.

Get ready!

Ask yourself. Are you still trying to get journalists to write about your products? Are you still making websites? Is your social networking strategy to ‘get a Facebook Page’?

…or…

Are you making yourself a natural part of people’s stream of information?”

With this great thought I would like to hand it over to Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan) and April Dunford (@aprildunford) with the blog post “What Marketers can Learn from Chris Brogan’s ‘Next Media Company'” from rocketwatcher.com:

“Chris Brogan is a social media marketing smarty-pants.  There are a lot of folks out there (in marketing especially) that bill themselves as “Social Media Experts” because, like, they use Facebook a lot, but Chris, my friends is the real deal.  If you don’t read his blog you should and following him on Twitter is great because he interacts with everyone.

His latest post “The Next Media Company” is a must-read for anyone thinking about what social media means for traditional media and communications in general and that mean YOU, dear marketing readers.  In it he outlines a set of characteristics that he believes the next generation of media companies should have. Here are a few points I have picked out that I think are really important for marketers to think about:

  • Stories are points in time, but won’t end at publication. (Edits, updates, extensions are next.)
  • Media cannot stick to one form. Text, photos, video, music, audio, animation, etc are a flow.
  • Everything must be portable and mobile-ready. (Mobile devices need to evolve here, too).
  • Everything must have collaborative opportunities. If I write about a restaurant, you should have wikified access to add to the article directly.
  • Contributors come in many shapes: onstaff, partner (how pros like TechCrunch link to Washington Post), guest (for love and glory only), and conversational come right to mind. Who else?
  • Collaboration rules. Why should I pick the next cover? Why should my picture of the car crash be the best?
  • Everything is modular and linkable. Everything is fluid. Meaning, if I want the publication to be a business periodical, then I don’t want to have to read a piece about sports.

Now go back and think about your company website, your marketing materials, your customer facing information in any form.  How much of that is interactive/collaborative/fluid?  How much of your customer facing communications crosses media types?  How much of it is mobile-ready?  Is all of your customer-facing content being created inside the organization?  Do you make your customers read a bunch of stuff that isn’t relevant to them, just to get at the bits that are?  Do you collaborate with your customers?

If you are in marketing, you are in the communications business and the way we are communicating is changing, in my opinion, for the better.  The next great marketing company is going to be thinking a lot about the same things the next media company is thinking about.”

Read this blog post on rocketwatcher.com

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Do not waste time with visiting twitter.com or blogs – Aggregate everything via RSS

Posted in Uncategorized by salesenablement on April 6, 2009

When someone writes to me that they plan on visiting my blog frequently then I’m honored but wondering why they don’t just subscribe.

Don’t waste time with visiting twitter.com or blogs randomly! Aggregate everything via RSS in one dashboard (e.g. with iGoogle like below) and then only go to posts you are interested in.

Subscribe to the RSS feeds of searches for your company, your products, your competitors etc… on Google Blog Search, Blog Pulse, Twitter search, etc…

igoogle

surchur.com also provides an interesting dash board for searches across a lot of web2.0 sites.

surchur.com

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This has been said about Google and might be said about Twitter soon: What you can’t find via its search doesn’t happen

Posted in Uncategorized by salesenablement on February 28, 2009

Twitter This has been said about Google and might be said about Twitter soon: What you can’t find via its search does not happen (is unnoticed).

Believe it or not, but recently I find myself using the search on Twitter or looking at RSS feeds of certain keywords’ searches on Twitter more often than I google. Maybe that is due to my current projects but it might be a shift that many people will experience to some extend.

Being able to tap into what people are saying right now is just as much of a revolution as the first good search engines were. Obviously checking what the industry is saying about your company, your product, your competitor, etc… the second before walking into a sales meeting prepares you for questions and delivers great conversation starters. It is Conversation Enablement.

A lot has been written about the value of real-time search since the Twitter search became popular. I’m sure if Google ran the Twitter search a “TweetRank” (or however the equivalent of PageRank would be named) that ranks by number of followers, re-tweets and external links to your tweets and Twitter account would be a great option next to the simple real-time search.

In terms of a revenue model for Twitter (“The Twitter Gold Mine & Beating Google to the Semantic Web”): If Google doesn’t buy Twitter then and I don’t see why Twitter wouldn’t be able to either licence Google’s AdWords algorithm and auction platform or built its own.

What ever happens, for now we can use this Greasemonkey user script (that displays the most recent 5 tweets for the query that you are searching for, giving both real-time Twitter search results and Google results on the same page) or check out the new social media search engine http://surchur.com.

http://mt-hacks.com/images/twitter-google-apple-event.png

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